Bob Smith, our expert witness in the Chabuk trial, provided the following insight that relates to some important points we made to the judge concerning what Kamuran Chabuk could have done differently to avoid being prosecuted after shooting an unarmed aggressor where there were at least two or three potential assailants:
“Recall also that we countered the point of the prosecution in the first trial regarding Chabuk’s alleged legal obligation to announce that he was armed. There is no such legal obligation. This was one of many such points that the first judge pointed out in his decision granting a retrial.”
“Practically speaking on the use of force continuum one does not have to announce that he or she has a gun. It is often advisable to do so if there is enough time to do so. In the Chabuk case however, ample evidence was presented to show the attacker should reasonably have known Chabuk was armed, including the aggressor’s own statements to Chabuk.
In the recent trial, the judge’s acquittal decision negated the prosecution’s argument regarding an alleged duty to announce to the attacker that he had a gun. The fact that the aggressor continued closing the distance between himself and Chabuk—even after being shot the first and second time—indicated that the aggressor was so intoxicated he probably would not have backed off. If someone does not figure out that you have a gun after being shot twice a verbal announcement will not deter him either.
My thinking as to possibly avoiding trial in this case, and many others I have dealt with, is what Massad Ayoob teaches; set the active dynamic when initially talking to responding and investigating officers. If one does not do so, it is guaranteed that you will go through ‘the system.’
I had a case in Spokane where I met the client in jail with counsel who retained me for our first interview. One of my first questions to defendant was, “At what point did you decide that you needed to shoot?” Answer: “when they started shooting at me.” Attorney Richard Lee, whom I have had the pleasure of working with before, and I looked at each other in surprise. This had not been revealed yet as the client took the same advice too often given and said nothing to police at the time of incident or after being in jail for a couple months until we saw him.
This explained something I noted in the police reports which was defendant had fired 6 rounds from his .380 pistol yet 11 empty .380 cases were recovered and entered as evidence. Our subsequent private investigation discovered witnesses who observed the whole gunfight, not just a shooting, between our client and four individuals and the circumstances that led up to the event.”
“In short order a dismissal of charges was obtained by Mr. Lee and the client was free. No trial. Do we not think that if the client had set the active dynamic local police would have conducted a more thorough investigation? I believe so.”
So what should you say to the police? Mr. Smith’s advice—with which we and other experts like Massad Ayoob agree—is to tell the police, “They tried to murder me.”
If there were other people who were in danger, indicate who those individuals are and point out witnesses to the shooting. Tell the police where the physical evidence is located. Spent casings, bullet holes, physical injuries and damage to property are all examples of physical evidence.
Then tell the police that you will be glad to answer questions when you have had opportunity to rest, recover from the trauma of the shooting, and have counsel present. Law enforcement officers are taught not to go into details about a shooting without legal counsel present. They will understand your need for additional time.
Most police officers understand that armed citizens are helping to make their jobs easier by making the streets safer. Police, and everyone else that legally packs in public places, realize how we are in the fight together.
The fight is not just against armed predators on the streets. There are now many tax exempt foundations, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, police chiefs and corporate interests affiliated with the news business seeking to diminish local law enforcement, put cops in the cross hairs and committed to abrogate the ability of all honest people to defend what we hold dear.